Palm Springs fire chief abruptly resigns; city to begin search for replacement immediately

Fire Chief Kevin Nalder’s departure marks the second high-profile departure in the past month and the eighth in the past year.

The city of Palm Springs lost another member of its leadership Wednesday after Fire Chief Kevin Nalder resigned.

A city spokesperson confirmed the resignation Wednesday, adding that Deputy Fire Chief Jason Loya will step in on an interim basis. No further information was available about why Nalder resigned, including whether he was asked to or chose to.

“The City is immediately commencing conversation about how to fill the position,” Communications Director Amy Blaisdell said by email.

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Nalder’s departure marks the second high-profile vacancy created in the past month. City Manager Justin Clifton announced his resignation, effective in September, on July 18.

Nalder served seven years as the city’s chief after coming here from Kirkland, Wash., where he was in the same role between 2009 and 2015.

In Palm Springs, Nalder oversaw a 70-person department growing busier and busier every year. Officials with the department frequently point to data that shows calls for service have increased 20% in just the past year.

To combat that increase, the Palm Springs City Council approved a $27 million hike in the fire department budget for the next fiscal year. The money will go, in part, to pay for nine additional firefighter/paramedics. Nalder had asked for 15 more firefighters and a new training captain.

Nalder and Clifton are not the only high-profile leader at City Hall to depart in the past year:

  • Former Assistant City Manager Marcus Fuller left for the city manager job in Rialto last summer. He was replaced by Teresa Gallavan, who will serve as interim city manager after Clifton departs next month.
     
  • Parks and Recreation Department Director Cynthia Alvarado-Crawford joined Fuller in Rialto and was replaced by Yvonne Wise from San Diego in May.
     
  • Police Chief Bryan Reyes retired last August and was replaced last October by Andy Mills from Santa Cruz
     
  • City Clerk Anthony Mejia left for the same job in Palm Desert in February and was replaced earlier this month by Brenda Pree, the former city clerk in Pittsburgh.

The city also recently named two other new department heads. Christopher Hadwin is coming from New York to be the new planning director. Lindsey-Paige McCloy, who also comes from New York, was named the new sustainability director in June.

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